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The Emma Press


What The House Taught Us

What The House Taught Us


What the House Taught Us is a collection of poems by Anne Bailey.

There is a place in a wood,

in the bottom of a drawer,

at the back of a mind.


A disused quarry in which

men cut stone from a hillside,

ground it into slabs, carted it away


leaving a precipice hidden

in the undergrowth:

a sheer drop of eighty feet,


a chasm filled with water

deep as the pit in your stomach,

cold as a last breath,


still as a sightless eye.

Cousin Brenda’s mother,

Arthur’s second wife, was found


bloated and floating there

in nineteen eighty two.

It’s not the sort of thing


you often think about,

not somewhere you would

ever want to go.’


– ‘Mind’s eye’, in What the House Taught Us

Page count: 36

Publication date: 02 Dec 2021

Paperback ISBN: 9781912915910

GTIN: N/A SKU: 9781912915910 Categories: , , , Tag:

Anne Bailey

Anne Bailey is a Yorkshirewoman now living and writing poetry in North Norfolk. She has worked as a teacher, a mother and a couples counsellor in London. She is a committee member for Café Writers, organising poetry events in Norwich. Her poem ‘What the River did Next’ was commended in the 2021 Ambit Poetry Competition. You can find her on Twitter: @Anneebai


You never know how things really are in other people’s families, in other people’s homes. There’s the public face and the private truths – the personal griefs and tragedies, whether festering or resting in peace. In her wry, engagingly strange poems, Anne Bailey takes the door off the latch and lets us inside.

She shows us loss and disappointment, as well as hardness and resilience, particularly through the eyes of a daughter, wife and mother. We see the domestic sphere in such close-up detail that it becomes bizarre, an uncanny dimension that nonetheless rings horribly, weirdly true.

“So you’ve put a picture on the lovely blank wall
that used to go pink in the sun
and feel like an ice cream.


A wall on which I used to rest my eyes
in pleasant contemplation.”

– from ‘Domestic’

‘The surreal worlds that Anne Bailey creates are slippery and surprising. There is a darkness lurking beneath the surface of these seemingly ordinary houses – who knows what you might find if you were to open the sideboard doors.’ Julia Webb

‘…with such simple language, it’s so exact, and compassionate in its enquiry into how the human mind copes.’ Charlotte Gann, Sphinx Review

‘The familiarity of the home, but re-told, encourages us to survey the objects around us and consider what we’ve stored in them – both physically and metaphysically – and that, alongside Bailey’s technique and eye for detail, makes for a wonderful dynamic. What the House Taught Us is a book that I’ll be returning to, and recommending, for some time.’ Charley Barnes, Dear Reader

‘On the surface, these are straight-talking poems, evoking the acceptance of a child who adapts without question to the world around her. But behind this is the detached adult observer, often ironic and wry, who talks in unsettling and surreal metaphors.’ Lorna Dowell, Sphinx Review

Watch Anne Bailey read from What The House Taught Us

Additional information

Dimensions 12.9 × .3 × 19.8 cm

Pamphlet, eBook

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